Monthly Archives: June 2016

Guadalajara: American Society

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An American Society member reads the latest issue of the Guadalajara Reporter after lunch.



The American Society of Jalisco is housed in an elegant old house that once belonged to one of Guadalajara’s wealthy families.
The spacious rooms serve as a gathering place for English-speaking expatriates, who appreciate the company of like-minded people.
Because of a dwindling membership (down from a high of over 1,000 several years ago, to a little over 100 today), several of the rooms are rented out to local professionals. A thrift shop occupies what was once the garage.
An extensive lending library is available to members, and a shelf devoted to free books is open to anyone, and usually has one or two treasures. The day I stopped by I helped myself to The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, and On Beauty by Zadie Smith.
Every Thursday lunch is served, and afterwards many members participate in card games or simply indulge in lively conversations.
More information: The American Society of Jalisco

Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved


Guadalajara: Ordinary Art

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A pair of discarded shoes, Plaza Tapatía


Serendipitous discoveries can be some of the best moments of a journey. Your life can be changed in an instant by finding “hidden” treasure.
Perhaps you’re on your way to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas—undoubtedly one of the finest art museums in Guadalajara—when, out of the corner of your eye, you think you see something unusual.
Can it be? Has someone left his shoes behind and walked away in stocking feet?
You wander closer to a ventilation grate to confirm your first impression. Yes, someone has stepped out of his shoes!
You have found a treasure. The shoes are arranged so artfully that the result seems to be the work of a master.
You take out your camera or your cell phone to record the scene. Maybe you even scribble notes for a poem that you will write later in a quiet hour of reflection.
Unexpectedly you have stumbled across the art of the ordinary, and new life has been breathed into your journey.

sorting out the threads
of a broken spider web
one strand at a time


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

Guadalajara: Carriages

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A horse-drawn carriage wends its way through Guadalajara’s historic centro


Behind La Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, the Monument to Jalisco’s Illustrious Persons, you’ll find about a half-dozen colorful horse-drawn carriages.
Tourists are drawn to them, of course, but so are local families. For a reasonable fee (an hour-and-thirty-minute ride for 490 pesos), you can view the area around the cathedral in stylish comfort.
Some people say that a carriage ride is especially enchanting at night, when the historic buildings are lit with floodlights.
The steady clip-clop of the horse’s hooves has a mesmerizing effect on the most jaded of travelers, and it’s not hard to imagine yourself back in colonial times, when only the wealthy could afford to ride in such a conveyance.

cascading blossoms—
how many journeys ended
where this one begins


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

Guadalajara: Beggars and Buskers

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A hurry-gurdy player outside the cathedral


Beggars and buskers congregate outside Guadalajara’s cathedral on Sunday mornings, hoping that passersby, moved to compassion by their plight, will toss a few coins their way.
On the stone steps a wizened old woman wrapped in a ragged shawl, mutely extends her hand.
Near one corner of the cathedral, a gaunt mother and her two children peer into passing faces. Perhaps someone will give them enough money for a meager meal.
At the opposite corner of the cathedral, a hurdy-gurdy player cranks out a forgettable tune with his right hand, while extending his donation cup with his left.
Meanwhile, inside the cathedral, someone reads the words of Jesus aloud: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these…”

in famine’s great hall
suddenly on my table
a feast of blossoms


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

Guadalajara: Instituto Cultural Cabañas

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A fresco by José Clemente Orozco at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas


An oasis of calm in the midst of a bustling metropolis, the Instituto Cultural Cabañas offers harried travelers, as well as local residents, an opportunity to restore their souls in the presence of great works of art.
The magnificent frescoes of José Clemente Orozco are an invitation to introspection, even though some of the scenes are unsettling.
“[Orozco] did not paint everlasting certainties,” the brochure for visitors explains; rather, “he painted the anxiety for certitude.”
Orozco’s unflinching portrayal of the subjugation of México’s indigenous peoples to the Spanish conquistadores reminds us of the presence of evil in the world.
But to find these disturbing frescoes painted on the walls and ceiling of what was once the chapel of an orphanage gives us the hope that good can overcome evil.
Wander through the hallways and cloisters. Visit the various art exhibits. Pause to sit for a while on one of the many benches provided for visitors.
Explore the courtyards, and let your soul be soothed by the sound of water flowing from fountains.
Admire the neo-classical architecture of this structure that was completed in 1810, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And above all give thanks that a place of peace and serenity still stands in the turbulent opening decades of the 21st century.

in hidden places
reading summer’s clear scripture—
hibiscus blossoms


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

Guadalajara: Hidalgo

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Statue of Miguel Hidalgo in Plaza de la Liberation; in Hidalgo’s hands is a broken chain


Every nation has its revolutionary war hero. The United States reveres George Washington. China reveres Mao Zedong. And Mexico reveres Miguel Hidalgo.
Hidalgo was a priest and an advocate for the poor. He worked especially hard in behalf of the native peoples, trying to free them from the yoke of poverty Spain laid upon them.
Hidalgo welcomed all races of people into his home. His “open house” policy enraged the elites.
When he finally called for a rebellion against the government, he was met with an outpouring of support. In the ensuing months, he ended up commanding an insurgent army of some 100,000 men.
But in January 1811, Hidalgo’s army suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of royalist forces at Puente de Calderon. On 21 March 1811 Hidalgo was captured, and on 30 July he was executed.
It was left to others to bring to fruition Miguel Hidalgo’s dream of independence from Spain. Yet to this day he is hailed as the Father of the Nation.

broken oak branches—
one more reason for blackbirds
to stop their singing


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved

Guadalajara: Pigeons

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Pigeons gobble up birdseed, placed by a sympathetic neighbor


Who can imagine a city without pigeons?
Every plaza and park in Guadalajara has a flock—or two or three—of the birds that some people refer to contemptuously as “rats with wings.”
They strut around the plazas and parks as though they own them. Fearlessly they beg for handouts from weary people resting on benches.
They rise quickly into the air when boisterous children startle them with sticks and shouting, and just as quickly they settle down when the menace has passed.
Some people poison them. Some people feed them. And some people eye them warily, wondering what mischief they’ll get into next.
Who can imagine a city without them?

fragrant white flowers—
a slice of summer sunlight
sharpening their scent


Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved